Translation procedures

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Translation procedures

مُساهمة من طرف SADOUN في الأحد 5 أبريل 2009 - 19:01

Translation procedures
By Marouane Zakhir,
English translator,
University of Soultan Moulay Slimane, Morocco

Translation is a field of various procedures. In addition to word-for-word and sense-for-sense procedures, the translator may use a variety of procedures that differ in importance according to the contextual factors of both the ST and the TT. In the present research, we will try to define the most crucial and frequent procedures used by translators.

a. Transliteration

Transliteration occurs when the translator transcribes the SL characters or sounds in the TL (Bayar, 2007).[1] In other words, this procedure refers to the conversion of foreign letters into the letters of the TL. Actually, this operation usually concerns proper names that do not have equivalents in the TLT. Examples of these names are /mitodolojya:/ 'ميتدلوجيا', /bibliyografya:/ 'بيبليوغرافيا', /joRrafiya/ 'جغرافيا', /ikolojya/ 'ايكلوجيا', /opira/ 'أوبيرا' from the English words 'methodology', 'bibliography', 'geography', 'ecology' and 'opera'. In fact, many scholars and authorities refuse to consider transliteration as a translation proper, since it relies on transcription rather than searching for the cultural and semantic equivalent word in the TL. Yet, if we believe in the truth of this judgment, how can we define or call the operation where the translator finds himself obliged to transcribe proper nouns or culturally-bound words in the SLT for the sake of preserving the local color?

b. Borrowing

Concerning borrowing, we can say that this task refers to a case where a word or an expression is taken from the SL and used in the TL, but in a ‘naturalized’ form, that is, it is made to conform to the rules of grammar or pronunciation of the TL. An example of Borrowing is the verb 'mailer', which is used in Canadian-French utterance; here, the French suffix-er is added to the English verb 'mail' to conform to the French rules of verb-formation (Edith Harding & Philip Riley, 1986).[2]

Borrowed words may sometimes have different semantic significations from those of the original language. For instance, the Moroccan word ‘tammara’, which is borrowed from Spanish, means in Moroccan Arabic 'a difficult situation', whereas in Spanish it conveys the meaning of a 'type of a palm tree'. The same thing can be said about the word ‘flirter’, which refers in French to a sexual foreplay, while in English the term means behaving towards someone as though one were in love with but without serious intentions. (The last example is used by Bayar, 2007).[3] Borrowing in translation is not always justified by lexical gap in the TL, but it can mainly be used as a way to preserve the local color of the word, or be used out of fear from losing some of the semiotic aspects and cultural aspects of the word if it is translated.

c. Calque

On the other hand, the term ‘calque’, or ‘Through-Translation’ as Newmark (1988)[4] calls it, refers to the case where the translator imitates in his translation the structure or manner of expression of the ST. Actually, this is the core of difference between calque and borrowing, since the latter transfers the whole word. Calque may introduce a structure that is stranger from the TL. For instance, ‘champions league’, ‘week-end’ and ‘iceberg’ are used in French, though the latter does not consist of such purely English structure 'NP+NP'. Further, more examples of calque translation are to be found in names of international organizations. The latter consist of universal words that can be imitated from one language into another: e.g., European Cultural Convention, Convention culturelle européenne; study group, group d'étude (Newmark, 1988).[5] Calque expressions consist of imitating the manner of expression of the ST in the TT. According to Vinay and Darbelnet, Canadians are accustomed to use the expression 'les compliments de la saison', which is an imitation of the English expression 'season greeting', (current French: fruit de saison) (qtd by Bayar, 2007).[6]

d. Transposition

Transposition, or shift as Catford calls it, reflects the grammatical change that occurs in translation from SL to TL. According to Newmark (1988),[7] transposition consists of four types of grammatical changes. The first type concerns word's form and position, for instance: ‘furniture’, des meubles; ‘equipment’, des équipements. Here, we see that the English singular words are changed to plural in French. Concerning position change, it is clearly exemplified in the English/Arabic examples: 'a red car', ' سيارة حمراء'; 'a beautiful girl', 'فتاة جميلة'.

In the latter examples, we notice that the position of the adjective changes from English into Arabic. This change in position is not arbitrary, since it depends on the TL structure.

The second type of transposition is usually used when the TL does not have the equal grammatical structure of the SL. In this case, the translator looks for other options that help conveying the meaning of the ST. For example, the gerund in the English expression 'terrorizing civilians…' might be translated into French in two variable ways:

The subordinate clause: 'si vous terroriser les civils,…'

The verb-noun 'le terrorisme contre les civils…'

For the third type, Newmark (1988)[8] defines it as "the one where literal translation is grammatically possible but may not accord with the natural usage in the TL." Transposition, here, offers translators a plenty of possible versions. For instance, the SL verb can be shifted into a TL empty verb plus noun:

J'ai parlé au parlement hier.

I gave a speech in the parliament yesterday.

The SL adverbial phrase becomes an adverb in the TL:

ST: D'une façon cruelle.

TT: Cruelly.

Concerning the fourth type, it occurs when the translator uses a grammatical structure as a way to replace a lexical gap. For the sake of clarification, we will try to quote one of the interesting examples used by Newmark (1988)[9] in his Textbook of Translation:

ST: Après sa sortie.

TT: After he'd gone out.

Here, we notice that the grammatical structure of the TLT is used as a way to compensate for or replace the lexical gap existing in its linguistic system.

In short, transposition concerns the changes of grammatical categories in translation. This procedure is the most frequent device used by translators, since it offers a variety of possibilities that help avoiding the problem of untranslatability. Besides, translators mostly use transposition intuitively, while looking for ways to transfer the ST into the TT.

e. Modulation

Modulation is defined by Gérard Hardin and Gynthia Picot (1990) as "a change in point of view that allows us to express the same phenomenon in a different way."[10] Actually, this semantic-pragmatic procedure that changes the category of thought, the focus, the point of view and the whole conceptualization is distinguished, according to Vinay and Darbelnet (1977: 11, qtd by Bayar, 2007),[11] into two types: ‘recorded modulation’, also called ‘standard modulation’, and free modulation. For the first type, recorded modulation, it is usually used in bilingual dictionaries. It is conventionally established, and is considered by many to be a ready-made procedure. An example of this type is given by Bayar (2007):[12] 'help-line': 'خلية انصات', 'cellule d'écoute'. Concerning the second type, ‘free modulation’, it is considered to be more practical in cases where "the TL rejects literal translation" (Vinay and Darbelnet, qtd by Bayar, 2007).[13]

Vinay and Darbelnet distinguish between eleven categories or types of free modulation: ‘Negated contrary’, for example, is a procedure that relies on changing the value of the ST in translation from negative to positive or vice versa, e.g. 'it is difficult' may be translated by 'ce n'est pas facile'; 'he never lies' can be translated by 'il est honnête'; 'remember to pay the taxe', 'n'oublier pas de payer la taxe'. It should be noted here that these examples are all free translations and their correctness depends on the context. Yet, modulations become compulsory when there is a lexical gap in opposition (Newmark, 1988).[14]

Another category of modulations is 'part of the whole', e.g. 'la fille aimée de l'Eglise' stands for 'France' (Newmark, 1988),[15] 'اليد العاملة ' for 'workers'.

In addition, free modulation consists of many other procedures: abstract for concrete, cause for effect, space for time, etc., but impersonal or active for passive is still the most frequent and useful procedure. An example of the latter is:

He is said to be serious.

On dit qu'il est sérieux.

In sum, modulation as a procedure of translation occurs when there is a change of perspective accompanied with a lexical change in the TL. Yet, this procedure should better be avoided unless it is necessary for the naturalness of the translation.


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رد: Translation procedures

مُساهمة من طرف SADOUN في الأحد 5 أبريل 2009 - 19:02

f. Reduction and expansion

These two procedures are usually used in poor written texts, and lead to a change in lexical and stylistic aspects. Expansion refers to the case where the translator exceeds the number of words of the SLT in translation, e.g. 'homme noir', 'dark skinned man'. Here, we notice a shift from n+adj in French into adj+ptp (compound adj) +noun.

Further, expansion procedure also occurs when the translator tries to move from the implicit into the explicit. For instance, 'the child cries for the game', should not be translated by 'l'enfant pleure pour le jeux', since the element 'pour' does not convey the right meaning, and may mislead the reader. So, here the translator should look for another explicit meaning of the element 'pour', which is (in order to get), 'pour avoir', thus the example is correctly read as 'l'enfant pleure pour avoir le jeux'.

In reduction procedure, the translator is more likely to reduce in the number of elements that form the SLT. This procedure should respect the principle of relevance, that is, the translator should make sure that no crucial information is dropped in translation. An example of reduction in translation is 'science politique', 'politics'. Here, the SL adjective plus noun becomes a general noun (politics) in the TL.

g. Adaptation

In adaptation, the translator works on changing the content and the form of the ST in a way that conforms to the rules of the language and culture in the TL community. In general, this procedure is used as an effective way to deal with culturally-bound words/expressions, metaphors and images in translation. That is, the translator resorts to rewriting the SLT according to the characteristics of the TLT. Monia Bayar (2007)[16] argues that adaptation is based on three main procedures: cultural substitution, paraphrase and omission.

Cultural substitution refers to the case where the translator uses equivalent words that are ready-made in the TL, and serve the same goal as those of the SL. In other words, the translator substitutes cultural words of the SL by cultural words of the TL. An example of cultural substitution is clearly seen in the translation of these proverbs:

Tel père, tel fils - هذا الشبل من ذاك الأسد.

She is innocent as an egg - elle est innocente comme un agneau.

In these two examples, we notice that the translators substitute the STs by expressions which are culturally specific in the TL. For instance, the last example uses the term ‘agneau’ as a cultural equivalent for the word ‘egg’, since the latter conveys a bad connotation, which is imbecility, as in the example "ne fait pas l'oeuf" = "ne fait pas l'imbécile" (G. Hardin & C. Picot, 1990).[17] Yet, if the translator cannot find a cultural specific expression that substitutes the cultural expression of the SL, he should resort to paraphrase.

Paraphrase as another procedure of adaptation aims to surpass all cultural barriers that the ST may present. This procedure is based on explanations, additions and change in words order. For instance, the English metaphor "he is a ship without compass" has no cultural equivalent expression in Arabic, thus, the saying could be translated as "انه يعيش في عالم من الضياع لا موجه له فيه ". Actually, paraphrase is not only used in culturally-bound texts, but also in poor written and anonymous texts, which show omissions (Newmark, 1988).[18] Besides, the translator should not use paraphrase in all the parts of the text unless necessary, otherwise his translation would be judged as different from the original.

Omission means dropping a word or words from the SLT while translating. This procedure can be the outcome of the cultural clashes that exist between the SL and the TL. In fact, it is in subtitling translation where omission attains its peak in use. The translator omits words that do not have equivalents in the TT, or that may raise the hostility of the receptor. For example, Arab translators usually omit English taboo words such as ‘fuck off’ and ‘shit’, while translating films into Arabic, just for the sake of respecting the Arab receptors, who may not tolerate the use of these words because of their culture. The process is also resorted to when translating from Moroccan Arabic into English:

MA: /3annaq SaHbo wmšaw bžuž lyid flyid/.

Eng: He held his boy friend tightly and went together.

Here, we notice that the translator omits the Arabic words /lyid flyid/, 'hand in hand', since this act misleads English receptors who may mistaken the friends of being homosexuals, instead of considering the act as an ordinary one.

In short, undoubtedly, adaptation, as one of the most intricate procedures of translation, enhances the readability of the TT in a way that helps receptors comprehend the ST ideas, images, metaphors and culture through their own language and culture. Cultural substitution, paraphrase and omission offer various possibilities for translators. However, the latter two types are still the subject of much debate, especially for those who defend the idea of fidelity in translation.

h. Additions, notes and glosses

In general, these procedures are used by translators to add information about a culturally-bound word/expression, or a technical term that is related to a specific domain. They may occupy various places within the text. They might be used inside the text, and here they can be positioned between round or square brackets, except in case these brackets are used as parts of the SLT. They are also used as notes in the bottom of the page, or at the end of the chapter, unless the chapter is too long. Further, additional information can be written as glosses in the end of the book, with the help of number references. Yet, the latter procedure is less favored, since it is an irritating and exhausting task for the reader, who finds himself obliged to go to the end of the book every time he comes across a foreign word. Finally, the use of these procedures depends on the readership and the degree of the gap that exists between his language and the SLT. Besides, these procedures should not be used at random in translation. They should better be preceded by a short introduction, where the translator discusses the difficulty of the authors' terms and his ways and degrees of assistance in transferring their meanings.

At length, it is clear from the above discussion that translation procedures are different in characteristics and uses. Each procedure has its own advantages that differ according to the texts under translation. In our opinion, no one can judge the sufficiency of one procedure on the other, and it is up to the translator to choose the one he sees more practical and helpful in his translation task. Besides, the translator may restrict himself to one procedure, or exceed it to two, three, or even four procedures in the same translated text, and this is what we refer to as couplets, triplets and quadruplets.


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